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Source: Don Von Bergen, 785-826-2696,
News release prepared by: Natalie Blair, 785-826-2642,

Friday, Jan. 8, 2010


SALINA -- Kansas State University at Salina will host a regional Kansas Science Olympiad Wednesday, Jan. 13. The olympiad is a statewide competition that challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge, ability and skills in all areas of science.

K-State at Salina has been host to a Kansas Science Olympiad regional competition for 17 years.

The olympiad, which was started 26 years ago, has competitions in biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, engineering and inquiry. The competitions include everything from written tests and lab experiments to the construction of a structure or a robot.

Don Von Bergen, head of the department of arts, sciences and business at K-State at Salina, has been a part of the Kansas Science Olympiad for nine years, first as a coach for Salina South High School and now as director of the Salina regional event.

The K-State at Salina regional competition, which is expected to draw 400 students and 50 coaches from 31 schools, includes Division B for grades 6-9 and Division C for grades 9-12. Team members usually compete in pairs and enter about four events each. Although individual victories are essential, teamwork plays a large part in the competition.

"This is truly a team sport," Von Bergen said. "Even if one person is a top performer in one or two events, they can't proceed to the state meet if the team score is too low."

Along with promoting teamwork, the goals of Kansas Science Olympiad are to increase the interest and proficiency of Kansas students in the study of science, to recognize outstanding student and teacher achievements in science, and to improve the quality of science education in Kansas.

"The science olympiad increases the desire and courage for students to pursue science and technology as majors in schools and eventually as a career path," Von Bergen said. "It makes science fun and competitive while giving the students an opportunity to be formally recognized and rewarded for their academic abilities and efforts on a regional, state and, for some, a national level."

Volunteers are essential to making the event possible, Von Bergen said. "We always have several students are on hand to assist, along with members of the faculty," he said. "Also vital to the event's success are the volunteers from the Rolling Hills Zoo, The Land Institute, Kansas Wesleyan University, private citizens and members of K-State's Manhattan campus."

In addition to K-State at Salina, other regional olympiads will be in Garden City, Hays, Kansas City, Kan., and Wichita.